Page 197 - MODES of EXPLANATION

Basic HTML Version

Essence for us is only to answer questions about the shadow; it does not exist independently
of questions about the shadow. Models assert structure and relationships, and in Zellmer et al.
(2006) models appear as equivalent classes, to which an observed entity is assigned. The
essence is that which can be used to explain the equivalence in the equivalence class; it
follows the implication of the model.
The model derives from an observable that has been realized such that we can
experience it. The observable might be a biological or social structure, which will have its
own model and narrative about itself and its world. In biology and sociology we are modeling
the model that is possessed by the observable. We propose to find the origins and reason for
those narratives and models that exist beyond our decisions as observers.
Essences are undefinable because they keep changing, perhaps through evolution, but
also through maturation. The scheme works for biology as well as social structures. US
Presidents each have a model as to what should be done. It comes from the incumbent’s
experience in the light of a set of expectations as to the undefined Presidency. The Presidency
usually realizes a President through elections. But Presidents can change the Presidency that
realized them. For instance, Nixon’s Watergate ordeal changed the Presidency. Presidents
and the Presidency are not so much things as they are together a relationship. We make them
things as we model what we experience in the realization. That means that things come from
us as observers. Probing the observable and its general condition in a scientific investigation
might allow the essence to clarify for us what all those Presidents have in common.
Scientific analysis should help us to understand what we have created in the
equivalence class of the model. It will also capture some of the model that the observable has
for itself. While the things modeled in biosocial systems have their own models, physical
entities do not have models for themselves or their environment. In physical systems we more
investigate the how of the realization, a simpler matter compared to modeling biology.
Linking the four contrasts together
Kuhn (1970) addressed science in a self-conscious way that identified intellectual
frameworks that he called paradigms. These frameworks accept a shared vocabulary,
methodology, and a view of what is worth studying. Paradigms are narratives. Like all
narratives that lie behind an investigation, they are neither true nor untrue; they are simply an
announcement of a point of view. When quantum mechanics and relativity moved beyond
Newton, we continued to use the Newtonian paradigms to build bridges, leaving alone the
contradiction between the two paradigms. The power of narratives is that they can survive
incompatibility. Splitting an atom is one story, while building a bridge is another. Neither
story is obliged to agree with the other.
Zellmer et al.’s scheme links direct observables to paradigms in Kuhn’s sense. The
linkage is not straightforward; it involves working up through levels of intrusion of the
human modeler and storyteller. Stories are built up through levels of involvement. Zellmer et
al. (2006) essentially present a model of how we model. Their scheme is complicated because
it invokes a hierarchy of considerations as the observable is fitted into the narrative, as the
6